tv Your Business MSNBC August 11, 2013 7:30am-8:00am EDT
hi there, everyone. i'm j.j. ramberg and welcome to "your business," the show dedicated to giving you tips and advice to help your business grow. today's story is for anyone who has had an amazing idea for a product but has no idea how to bring it to market. locker looks helps us out, taking us step by step along their path and explained how they turned a clever creation made of construction paper and scotch tape into a multimillion dollar business. turning an idea into a marketable profit can seem as simple as a spin of a when will on a child's board game. joanne brewer and christy sterling didn't even seem like players. >> this was the first time we
ever did this. it was just a completely new adventure for us. it was just out of our own experience with our daughter. >> they were going into sixth grade and wanted to decorate their locker and there wasn't a lot of cute stuff out there. and so christy went to work and came up with some concepts and here we are. >> it was things i clued together in my kitchen at the table. this was an example of a little bin that was basically just cardboard paper that i grewed together. >> their daughters loved these homemade school locker decorations and so did their friends. >> the phone started ringing from other parents saying, where did you get that stuff? we want it. how do we get it? and we realized there's a market for this. there's nothing out there like it. and we should look into this as a business. >> they knew they couldn't do it themselves and so their first step was to get some help. they met with marketing consult ant kyle priest. >> if you feel you've come up
with the next great idea and you're not sure what to do, it can look like a mountain to overcome. it's one of those things you do one step at a time. >> i was a little afraid to call him. i thought wow, will he even sit down with us? he met with us. >> we worked more on the tenants of the business and the goals and then put those into a planned structure. sometimes people make the mistake of grabbing a template and to completing it to create a business plan and they forget the human side of things. and the realities of how to structure a plan that they can live with. once we had the business plan in place and grand identity solid, it was time for them to get into sales mode. >> next move was to head for the dallas market center. robin wells was one of the executives in charge. >> if you have a creative product and you want to take it to market, there's several ways but bringing it to a trade show, showing as many people as you can and finding someone to help you sell it, that's what goes on here ten times a year.
>> we came to the dallas market, we were overwhelmed by how much stuff was here. we were pretty clueless. the advice we did get was to try to find a manufacturing rep or sales rep that can distribute your products and that has relationship with his retailers. >> as they walked through the trade show, they found a manufacturer's rep lit listed on the fourth floor. they took their chances and asked to speak to the owner of dallas based diverse marketing. >> they just came up to my door and asked to speak with me and said they had a great idea on this little box they were carrying. i said, well, what's it all about? christy told me, i can't tell you what's in the box. >> and he said, i don't know how i can help you if i don't know what the idea is. we were very fearful at that time about disclosing, you know, any information. and so that's when he said, you know, have you heard of an nda? you know, we could sign one of those and then you could show me
your idea. >> the next move for us was we had some initial meetings and we had a retailer come in that we have good relationships with, hastings out of amarillo. and showed it to her and goes, i think it's just great. i want to do an order. we said we hadn't made it yet. and she said i still want to give you an order. she left and christy and joanne looked at them and said well, i guess we have to make it now. >> the next step was manufacturing the products. they contacted the owner of dallas based china advantage. >> we are the bridge between idea and the product. so if we want to turn the idea to real production in the first stage, you have to give us a design. you have to give us a drawing. >> ray was willing to work with
us at that point. not everybody would. some of the factories want you to have a certain volume, certain knowledge, certain business already established. ray was willing to take us from the start and walk us through and hold our hand and say, you guys are new. we can start with small quantities. we can tweak this. >> and we had to decide how much of the product we wanted to get made. he put his team together to source all the different products and come back with a prois. >> while the retailers were waiting to receive their orders, the next step, select a fulfillment company to do the receiving, packing and shipping of the products. that's where they landed in some trouble. >> we tried to do some due diligence and we weren't sure what criteria we should look for in a shipper. unfortunately, it was a complete disaster and they shipped about 80% of our product incorrectly
in that first year. so it was a very tough year for us. >> those shipping errors nearly cost them the business. but they got back in the game when they reconnected with another shipper. craig clay of maryland based total biz fulfillmentment. >> i don't know what happened to them. all i can tell you is that if you don't have a good fu fulfillment company in place, they could receive the wrong merchandise or not in a timely manner. the way they receive that may look like it's just thrown in a box and it's damaged by the time it gets to you. >> we would look for a shipper that was acustomed to shipping to the type of retailers that we sell to. >> with their new fulfillment in place rks they landed on their first goal, on retail racks across the country and the two are ready for their next move. >> the path from having an idea to getting a product into a store can be a perilous one if
you don't know how to navigate it. let's turn to folks who know the process now. the co-founder of booklings, a company that makes fashionable and functional binder covers. senior vice president multimedia editor at large for black enterprise and brad harrison is the founder and ceo of a business development firm with a venture capital fund. great to see you guys. >> good to be here. >> so, lori, you heard about these women? >> yes. >> and had an idea and followed their same process, right? >> i did. i did. we had a concept. we had to develop a business strategy from there. so we decided to do a little bit of research online. there i stumbled across locker dl lockerlookz. >> you found someone who did the research for you. >> i sure did. >> you invest in early stage companies. people must come to you and say i have this idea. i know people are going to buy
it. what do i do now? >> lori's idea is probably the best thing. find the plan that's worked, look where they've had success and trouble and replicate it and improve on the processes. as long as you have a good product vision and you have identified a market that you know is a good market, you should have a lot of success. >> a great product is not a business. so many people get stuck. they're in love with this great product. everyone else tells them they love the product. scaling that product up to the point where it can be distributed through wholesalers or retailers is a whole different thing. lori figured out how to do scale up from a great idea, great product to distribution, manufacturing and fulfillment. unfortunately a lot of people were passionate about their product, get very bored. >> you didn't go to the dallas market, i take it? >> we were introduced to lockerlookz. when we had gone to the fall toy
preview, i had the privilege of meeting both joanne and christy. they took me through all of their triumphs and tribulations. >> if someone wants to follow the same path but can't work with the same exact people, how do they know if they're working with the right people? >> great business partners. the failure of most businesses is having bad business partners. their stumbling block was picking a bad business partner. you want to understand what the key variables are that they want that business partner to deliver. they needed a partner that was used to fulfilling products to a specific retailer. you have to understand what those variables are and pick your partners based on that. >> you want to look at referrals, pick people who have done successfully what you want them to do with you. we don't know what the problem was with the original fulfillment provider but you want someone with a proven track
record. >> the best case scenario for lori is to find an adviser or mentor like the two women that had just gone through it that can help her avoid the stumbling blocks and make introductions. >> and how do you find it? this all makes a lot of sense. i talk to people all the time. some woman in the park has a great idea. she doesn't even know where to make the first phone call. >> you have to get out there. we were reluctant to share our idea because we didn't want to get stolen or taken. the truth is that you can't get from here to there without going to conferences, without going to toy expo, because the other pieces of your puzzle are held by other people. you have to -- nondisclosure agreement signed, recognizing that sharing your idea and getting help, bringing it to market is critical. and you're not going to have all the answers. >> were you scared to share your idea? >> yes.
we were absolutely nervous to do so. we also realized that it's important that in order to get this to market, we have to disclose it, we have to build relationships. networking is probably the biggest lesson we've learned. in a ten-minute conversation with somebody at a trade show it's amazing the knowledge you can gain. they help you identify the problems you could potentially face. >> when you're first starting out, you don't even know the questions to ask. you need to talk to people and find out. congratulations on your product. >> thank you. >> it looks great. thank you for the advice on this. we've been talking about what it takes to get your product on to the shelves of major retailers like walgreens and target. not long ago we spoke to representatives from those stores as well as a california business owner who successfully made his way through that proces process. >> they started out with 16
items in our store and they now have over 50. >> incredible brand and we're so excited to have them as a partner. >> walgreens and target are both saying yes to yes to ink. shannon curtain and target vice president dusty tucker jenkins say their respective customers are big fans of yes to carrots, yes to cucumbers, yes to tomatoes and yes to blue dlts berries. >> the customer following that he had developed. >> co-founder of san francisco based yes to says getting his organic skin and hair care products into major retailers was a coup. not even he could contain his excitement at first. his reaction was something like this. >> can't say that on television, unfortunately. it was oh, beep beep beep. it was really incredible. >> early on, the five-year-old company decided to approach larger retailers, despite its own humble beginnings.
with a staff of about 25, working with five american production facilities, yes to currently provides products to 28,000 stores worldwide. getting to the point to pitching to perspective partners was initially somewhat of a challenge. >> we had to scramble. it was hard. we had a rough plan. >> yes to got its first big break after sinking plenty of time and money into trade shows. with some help from a contact, they got a 30--minute pitch meeting to walgreens that turned into a few hours. >> we wanted that presentation that had no questions at the end of it. the only question we wanted them to ask was when can we have it? >> while touting yes to was easy, answering questions wasn't. he says retailers want to know about a vendor's potential. >> at the end of the day, they want to know are you bringing incremental people to my store and how are you going to make sure they buy your product versus somebody else's? >> after an online trial and
offer for shelf space at thousands of stores, yes to needed to ramp up production. and fast. that was, by far, one of the trickiest parts of working with a major outlet. unlike walgreens, yes to use aid different approach when introducing itself to target. >> we first met with target, we went through a broker and that broker adds a certain level of credibility to what you're doing. >> at that point, yes to was better prepared. the company had already grown to satisfy increased demand. he found some differences among retailers. he learned that each vendor gets its own deal. they're never the same. >> the relationship that you have with your mom is different than what you have with your best friend and it's the same thing here. >> it's important that we have open lines of communications, that we understand what they're expecting from us and, in turn, that we understand -- that they understand what we're expecting from them. >> even though a vendor may land a major deal, he says they must push to keep partnerships
thriving and you always have to think about money. >> if people believe you're getting to 5,800 stores, allative sudden you're made. you're done. unfortunately those first couple of years you're putting that money back in. >> small business owners like him may want to rethink their major league plans until they get their minor league affairs in order. >> we didn't know which products were going to do better or worse. by starting at smaller retailers it gives you a significant advantage as you go into these major retailers that you do get it right. when we come back, how to draw attention to your business using social media. and we'll talk about the right way to negotiate. think value, value, value. ♪ i'm a hard, hard worker every day. ♪
♪ i'm a hard, hard worker and i'm working every day. ♪ ♪ i'm a hard, hard worker and i'm saving all my pay. ♪ small businesses get up earlier and stay later. and to help all that hard work pay off, membership brings out millions of us on small business saturday and every day to make shopping small huge. this is what membership is. this is what membership does. some of us are born negotiators. most of us aren't. to so many it's intimidating and they don't know where to start. that's why stu taylor is here today. syndicated business radio shows and entrepreneur and he will
give us tips on how to get the best deal in a negotiation. great to see you, stu. >> great to be here, j.j. >> you say compromise is key. should you go into a negotiation, with in the back of your mind this is where i'm willing to compromise? >> you should go into a negotiation thinking that the ultimate goal, number one, is to know what you want to do, you know what the other person wants to do and you know what you have to do to achieve your goal. reaching a resolution to achieve your objective. negotiation is an interesting process, but you know what it is? it has many faces. i used to do professional boxing, broadcasting. fighting is about styles, compromise is about styles. no two negotiations are the same. >> which make this is next idea interesting. determine what motivates. because you may not know going into a negotiation what's motivating the other side. you may have an idea and it's important to research that. once you understand that and you can have a discussion about it,
perhaps there are compromises that you can make that you don't really care about, but will make them happy. >> exactly. you just said it. it is value added. every time i go into a negotiation, i'm thinking what kind of value can i give the person on the other side of the table? but you have to understand what it is a person wants. take an example. you're happily married, i assume. you think how often in every marital relationship does the man not understand the woman and the woman not understand the man? because we don't really get at the needs. you have to define what it is that the other person wants. it may not be money. some people are in it for ego. >> hopefully if you're husband and wife, it's not. >> there are different reason that is motivate people. >> understand their motivations. should you throw out the first price or not? that's the question we get the most. >> it's a great question. i don't mean to be diplomatic here but the answer is yes and no. the only time you should really throw out the first price is if you are in firm control of a negotiation and the information about the other person and you
know where the marks are. if you don't and you come unarmed you have to feel your territory. but there's a couple of ways to. anchoring at a low end. for example, if a home is on the market for $500,000 and i think i want to negotiate a deal i may risk it if i negotiate it. if i offer $500,000 i might get thrown out of the negotiations. the opposite of that, the house is available for $500,000 but market is red hot. i'll come in at $550,000 so everybody walks away with an win. incrementally feel way way up the line. go to the negotiation knowing how badly do i want it and at
what price will i settle. >> you mentioned this before but the value you'll provide. in some ways the value you provide may not cost you anything. >> the value you provide -- here is a perfect opportunity. i may have something of no value to me and a lot of value to you. if i have someone who's an ave id book reader, i'll bring seven, eight books and inject it in a conversation. or if i'm having difficulty in negotiations an arrangement, the person says, i only have 40 minutes, my wife is arriving at the airport, i'd say, i live near there, why don't i pick your wife up for you. bingo, deal. it's the value-added perception that will help close a deal. >> finally, don't walk away.
>> if you're unable to reach an agreement, and we've seen the consequences of these with the national hockey league, ridiculous where egos get into it and it becomes power, power to excess, and we've seen it with the national basketball association, we see it with congress every day. the way to leave the situation is on good terms. don't ever walk out of a negotiation. you'll permanently damage the relationship. you might say, i'd like to think of some thingings we can do for you. let's come back in three months and sit down at the table and negotiate. >> i appreciate you coming on the program. thank you. it's likely competitors are trying to poach your marketers. five ways to energize your sales courtesy of entrepreneur.com. one, establish listening posts. you need to understand your
customers' needs. two, announce special promotions. three, polish lead management. ask every new prospect where they heard about your company and make your ads trackable. four, enhance your giving. potential customers want to know you're a good corporate citizen to consider giving pro bono service. number five, freshen your content. do not let your website become static or boring. and make sure each step of your sales process is seamless. it's time to answer some of your business questions. alfred and brad are with us once again. the first question is about attracting a specific audience online.
>> with the social media aspect we know how to post our product and offerings with social media but how do we draw organizations to us through social media? >> it's interesting. he's got it exactly backward. what should he be doing? >> he wants to search out those people he wants to engage in and express interest in them. posting on social media and posting your information is like going to a cocktail party and handing out flyers and walking out. you want to go in, you hoe can i help, share information and they will naturally gravitate to their content. >> i think we talked about this on this show before. social media is about an engaging conversation. that conversation has to be two ways. you have to seek out the people you want to engage and you have to understand what drives their
hot buttons around that and drive conversations about that and they'll get excited and they'll reach out and start following you, too. >> it's a real art. we think of social media as free and easy, but actually if it's not natural for to you have these considerativersations, it time-consuming. >> you are most interested in those people who show interest in you. >> and it's just another network like linkedin. social media is to have a separate office. the people that rule on social media are not necessarily the people that rule on tv or print. you have to find those that can move and influence the crowds in that space. >> let's move on to the next one. a question about real estate and when you're ready to expand. >> we are now seeking to expand
into other major luxury fashion markets such as manhattan, miami, l.a. and vegas. what is the one key piece of advice your experts would give me before i seek real estate locations to put my new satellite stores in. >> it's interesting. i mean, that's a big decision to go from one store to other stories in different cities across the country. what should sd she need to think about? >> we think the biggest thing is density of population arnold the area and population that matches the demographic you want to sell to. a lot of people can't afford to open up on fifth avenue or madison avenue but there's a lot of great other spots you can find in major metropolitan areas that have this same type of foot traffic. if you open up in midtown new york, that might be great during date, but there's no nighttime foot traffic. if you open up in soho, you might extend the hours -- >> you really have to understand the neighborhoods.
>> you have to find a local broker that understands your busine business, retail space. >> that dove tails with what i want to say. focus on what makes these markets unique because you'll have to tail tailor your strate >> and you need a manager you can trust. your business is changing when you go from having one store here to a store you can't be at every single day. >> and l.a. and not new york, is not miami. >> that's why having a local manager from that market that understands the cultural nuances of dallas, l.a., miami, because there are cultural differences in the way people perceive the markets.
>> thank you. you're a wealth of information. want to create dynamic video marketing content for your business? check out our website of the week. brainshark.com helps you create, share and track online mobile video decisions. can you take static power points you've already made and turn them into powerful rich flash videos that you can easily post online. the platform tells you who and how many people have watched your presentation, how long each viewer stayed with the show and where they're watching from. to learn more about today's show, all have you to do is click on our website. it's openforum.com/yourbusiness. you'll find all of today's segments and web exclusive content to help your business grow. can you follow us on twitter @msnbcyourbis. next week, he designs luxury
one-of-a-kind fish tanks for the rich and famous. >> we're not a large company. we're a very small boutique company so i take on only the number of clients i'm able to deal with on any given moment. >> we'll see how this entrepreneur is delegating responsibilities to grow his business while still maintaining the high sanders of his brand. until them, i'm j.j. ham berg. bemake your business our business. is like hammering. riding against the wind. uphill. every day. we make money on saddles and tubes. but not on bikes. my margins are thinner than these tires. anything that gives me some breathing room makes a difference. membership helps make the most of your cashflow. i'm nelson gutierrez